I’m always searching for that best barefoot running shoe that will meet my forefoot running needs. Sadly, many athletic footwear brands do not offer an assortment of barefoot shoes, this is the challenge because we need a barefoot-like running shoe as a forefoot strike enhancer. So, what are the best barefoot shoe brands out there so far?
Sadly, there are only a few barefoot shoe brands that manufacture barefoot inspired shoes that not only prepare your feet for forefoot running, but improve your forefoot running technique, also.
Many shoe brands, particularly nike, offer only a small selection of barefoot shoes, whereas other shoe brands, such as Vibram and Terra Plana exclusively make barefoot shoes. Nonetheless, here are the best barefoot shoe brands for forefoot strike runners:
Barefoot Shoe Brands
Vibram Five Fingers – Vibram makes running shoes that are more barefoot-friendly because the shoe actually looks like the human foot. The individual toe sockets aids in toe spreading, giving you better balance control and toe flexion, which leads to greater strength gains in the foot. They have so many shoe variations to choose from, too.
Vivobarefoot (Terra Plana) – Vivobarefoot’s running shoes feel and fit just like the Vibram FiveFingers, minus the individual toe sockets. They are known for having a wide toe-box and a stylish design in that they not only look great for running, but for causal wear also.
Xero Shoes – When it’s summer time, you don’t want your feet cookin’ in shoes. This is why I love Xero Shoes because they are minimalist running sandals that allow great sensory play for the feet.
Skora – Want a more warmer barefoot running shoe for the winter? Skora makes most of their shoes with the upper made of goat leather, which is very thermal for the feet. Skora’s are always wide, having a D-width toe box. Most of their shoes are aslo made with a thicker outsole that is incredibly, so they would be great for endurance runs.
Merrell – Merrell only makes one decent barefoot running shoe and that is the Vapor Glove, which is a good start to joining the minimalist bandwangon. The Vapor glove is a mix between the feel of the Vibram FiveFingers with the wideness of Vivobarefoot.
Tesla – If you are on a budget like many of us, you’ll appreciate the Tesla trail running shoe as it is literally a carbon-copy of the Merrell Vapor Glove 2, except the Tesla is more affordable. The Tesla has strikingly similar structural properties as the Merrell Vapor Glove, however the Tesla is more insulated, making it ideal for fall and winter weather conditions.
Invo-8 – Inov-8 makes flat, sleek minimalist shoes with a little more padding than the Vivobarefoot. Their shoes are especially great for cross-training, such as box jumps, and are really good for obstacle course races.
Asics – Asics is slowly making its way onto the minimalist running scene. Although much of their running shoes are tailored towards heel strike runners, they now offer more barefoot-inspired natural-feeling running shoes, such as the Piranha and GEL-Fortius TR, both shoes are invaluable engines designed to help reignite foot strength and function and provides a better opportunity to build good forefoot running mechanics, far better than traditional running shoes.
Mizuno – Mizuno is incredibly well-known for designing heel striker running shoes, but soon after Born to Run, Mizuno designed a few minimalistic running shoes, the Wave Universe and the Wave EVO Letivas to help meet the comforting and mechanical needs of forefoot runners. Both shoes have significantly less cushioning, a lower profile and impressive flexibility and durability, helping you better evaluate your forefoot running mechanical efforts.
Nike – Sadly, Nike only produced one barefoot-inspired running shoe, and its NOT the Nike Free! It happens to be the Free 1.0 Cross Bionic, which will help you produce good mechanical behaviors associated with the sensory factors illuminated by the paper-thin, flexible and light outsole.
If you are looking for the perfect barefoot shoe for forefoot running, check out my barefoot shoe reviews, to help you choose the best shoe. I also have a YouTube channel where I give a more in-depth, full-range analysis of barefoot-inspired running shoes I feel are most suitable for forefoot running.
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.